Can Pets Become Idols?

by Terry Wane Benton

I think we can see an unhealthy attachment to anything becomes a form of idolatry, the same as covetousness for money becomes a form of idolatry (Colossians 3:5). When our love for animals gets in the way of doing what God says, it can become a form of idolatry. We hear people express disdain for humans and declare that they would kill for their dog. That is certainly not “loving your neighbor as yourself.” So, what we need to keep a check on is that we do not prioritize the life of an animal over the life of a human being who is made in the image of God. We understand that people are often gruff and obnoxious, while dogs can be sweet, playful, cuddly, and never do evil. People are taken captive by the devil to do his will (II Timothy 2:26), while we never see such in our sweet puppies. Yet, God wants us to have compassion on those captivated by sin, and long to rescue them if possible. Jesus died for sinners, even the obnoxious hypocrites. He longs for their rescue from sin. Jesus would never value a dog over the soul of people. As much as I enjoy and love dogs, I must know that God places a far higher value on humans and so must I, or it becomes a form of idolatry. If I value dogs over people, Satan has already taken me captive and blinded me. I have been taken far away from the mind of Jesus.

Liking something and loving something are not synonymous ideas. I can love people in the sense of having goodwill for them while not liking certain attitudes and behaviors. I can have desires that all dogs go to heaven, but I know that they are not destined beyond this world, while humans have a soul or spirit that will be destined for an eternity in heaven or hell. The value of the human soul over the animal is more important to keep in proper perspective. The cuddly, never annoying animal is usually always pleasant, but still far inferior to the human soul. I may prefer not to be in the presence of ungodly people, and enjoy the presence of cuddly animals, but I must remember that I am the light of the world to people. I must work to be among people and influence them with light. I am the salt of the earth. I must be among even the tasteless people to try to flavor and influence them for good.

There is also a real danger of making idols out of dogs and cats to the point that we are slaves of the animal. It is not wrong to enjoy animals, but one can become enslaved to them, just as you could anything. Animals are gifts to enjoy, but be careful of obsessions. Obsessions make idols out of anything. Jesus valued lost souls, even the annoying souls of the scribes and Pharisees.

We must see the value of human souls over the animals. Jesus did not die for animals. Don’t live for them. Have a proper balance of perspective. We will give an account before God if we allow ourselves to value animals over humans made in God’s image.

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